Think your vote doesn’t count? Think again. Mumbai — and suburban Mumbai at that — could very well determine who becomes chief minister this time around.
With the constituency map redrawn according to the latest census, the densely populated urban areas have finally been given the representation they deserve.
Mumbai has two more seats than before — a total of 36, or more than 10 per cent of the state Assembly. And the suburbs have seven more seats, these taken from the more scarcely populated island city. There’s more good news.
The party that wins will likely be more eager to please Mumbai, and other urban areas, ending decades of resentment among Mumbaiites who pay the most in taxes but feel ignored by every successive state government.
Until this recent delimitation, how many MLAs or MPs a region had were based on the outdated 1971 census — when rural areas were much more densely populated than they are today.
But now, the urban belt of Mumbai-Pune-Nashik will determine the fate of about 70 seats this time, thanks to the restructuring of the state’s constituencies.
Mumbai forms a big chunk of this block.
So, as the two main contenders (the Cong-NCP and Sena-BJP combines) ready for battle, Mumbai is suddenly looking like a substantial prize. And the heat is on.
The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party, which made a clean sweep in Mumbai in the recent Lok Sabha polls, is still buoyed by that victory. And the Opposition Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party, which was left trailing far behind, is determined to catch up.
Whoever wins the majority of Mumbai’s seats will now automatically have a headstart in the battle for the state. Which is why Raj Thackeray and his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena are such a threat.
If the MNS damages the Sena’s prospects in the Mumbai-Thane belt, the saffron combine will find it hard to defeat the Congress in the state.
The Sena-BJP is also battling the new demographic divide in Mumbai, which favours parties like the Congress. Erstwhile Marathi pockets have been diluted as the new constituencies represent the cosmopolitan mix of the city itself.
The new state government is likely to be more of a melting pot, and much more friendly to Mumbai.